About thirty years ago I wanted to be a nun. I was a devoted Christian and this was the best way I could imagine to serve God. I wanted to serve God with everything I had to offer, I would be wholly dedicated, and live a life of calm service.
That didn’t happen. I met my first husband, fell head over heels and married at age twenty. We had two sons and I trained instead for authorised lay ministry in the church.
At various points over the past three decades I’ve explored monasticism in one form or another. I spent some years as an explorer with the Community of Aidan and Hilda, creating my own rule of life and practising a it in the context of the daily. I learned about Benedictine spirituality, investigating the existence of third orders and pondering how I might weave this into my own practice. I undertook an Ignatian retreat in daily life, admiring the work of the Jesuit order and seeking to incorporate this in my day to day.
Over the past five years my spirituality has shifted. I had an epiphany one morning while leading a Sunday service which led me out of the church. I began working with the sacred feminine. The desire to serve has remained and I’ve undertaken priestess studies with two different programs.
Despite the shift in focus, though, I am drawn once again to the idea of monasticism. How can I weave personal devotions, prayers, ritual into the day to day and exercise my spiritual path as a holistic, living practice.
At this time of year I am conscious of the desire to live simply. The mad consumer pre-Christmas rush makes me nauseous. There is a longing in my soul to shed the trappings of a “Western” life, and embrace the the monastic vows of simplicity and stability. To be rooted and grounded, present, to foster contentment and gratitude. To unburden myself of the need to possess; whether that be material objects or qualifications or a longer CV.
I wonder if this desire is linked to the season, as I watch the trees, leaves twirling down, gracefully letting go of what is no longer required. I notice that without their leaves the trees are revealed, the underlying form visible, I see this as vulnerability, but also truth, the skeleton framework standing stark against rainclouds.
Am I willing to undergo this process? Am I willing to be “without” and see this as a blessing not a curse? Can I find the beauty and freedom to live simply. I can see that this would be a much more easeful life, that much striving could be set aside, that there would be greater flow. I can see that without the need for “more” there would be a fullness which I often miss, focused as I am on the object over the essence.
Can I learn to be, rooted, revealed, vulnerable, and to trust grace for the rest?